Perhaps the chief justification for this book is the translation itself, which we have undertaken in a new way. Working closely together in daily sessions, we have tried to make these stories read as though they had been written in English. We do not consider English and Spanish as compounded of sets of easily interchangeable synonyms; they are two quite different ways of looking at the world [my italics], each with a nature of its own. English, for example, is far more physical than Spanish.
They go on to say that they have re-thought every sentence of the original Spanish and not so much translated it, as rewritten it in English.
This raises another issue regarding sense of place. In the post below I noted how southern writers are indubitably shaped by their locale, but that, it seems to me, is a matter of voice and character and sensibility. It affects the outlook of the characters and, I suppose, of the author as well. It is, as Welty indicated, a largely unconscious process.
What Borges and di Giovanni are saying is that the very language itself is affected by this sense of place: the English language is more robust than Spanish, and this will change the inflections and style of the piece. Not just the whole nature of the narrative, but even the way it is written, is shaped by this sense of place. And on that basis, their contention that one can’t simply write a straight translation from one language into another, synonym for synonym, metaphor for metaphor, seems possible. But can one truly say that a sense of place – be it the American south or on a national level – is so deeply ingrained?